During tuberculosis, lung myeloid cells have two opposing roles: they are an intracellular niche occupied by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and they restrict bacterial replication. Lung myeloid cells from mice infected with yellow-fluorescent protein expressing M. tuberculosis were analyzed by flow cytometry and transcriptional profiling to identify the cell types infected and their response to infection. CD14, CD38, and Abca1 were expressed more highly by infected alveolar macrophages and CD11cHi monocyte-derived cells compared to uninfected cells. CD14, CD38, and Abca1 “triple positive” (TP) cells had not only the highest infection rates and bacterial loads, but also a strong interferon-γ signature and nitric oxide synthetase-2 production indicating recognition by T cells. Despite evidence of T cell recognition and appropriate activation, these TP macrophages are a cellular compartment occupied by M. tuberculosis long-term. Defining the niche where M. tuberculosis resists elimination promises to provide insight into why inducing sterilizing immunity is a formidable challenge.

References

PubMed